Creating job opportunities for people living with disability in the visitor economy

Media release

The Albanese Labor Government will create more employment opportunities for Australians living with disability by connecting them with meaningful work in the visitor economy.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth and Tourism Minister Don Farrell today announced $3.3 million to establish a Visitor Economy Disability Pilot to help people living with disability secure sustained jobs in tourism.

The Pilot will address barriers previously identified by small and medium tourism businesses in recruiting, retaining and progressing staff with disability. This includes a lack of time or capability to recruit people living with disability, confusion on how or where to seek support, and employment service providers focusing on supporting jobseekers-only rather than also on employers.

A new targeted approach to supporting businesses experiencing skills and worker shortages will be tested through the Pilot with the funding of place-based Local Navigators. 

The Navigators will be trialled over a 12 month period in regional locations. They help support businesses to look for and place people living with disability into available jobs.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the conversation around disability employment needed to shift and the successful Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra last week had turbocharged these efforts.

The unemployment rate for people living with disability is double that of the national average and has remained unchanged for more than a decade.

“What we know is that 88 per cent of people living with disability and who want to work don’t actually need any modifications to their workplace to do so,” Minister Rishworth said.

“Employing someone living with disability should not be seen as a charitable act. It makes good business sense. When the visitor economy is crying out for workers, people living with disability should get opportunities to have meaningful careers in the sector.

“Finalising this Pilot came directly from discussions at the Jobs and Skills Summit. We are committed to closing the gap in disability employment and this is one step towards this.”

Tourism Minister Don Farrell said the sector was recovering after COVID-19 and that more employees were needed.

“The tourism sector is one of the five growth industries identified as having significant job shortages and potential for growth in the next five years,” Senator Farrell said.

“There is capacity for people with disability to meet this demand, with research suggesting that more than 113,000 people with disability are currently unemployed or underemployed, and ready to work.

“The tourism sector is crying out for workers and if we can create pathways to open up jobs and careers for people living with disability in this sector it is a good thing for everyone.”

The visitor economy covers a range of industries that provide goods and services to tourists who travel to a destination, including hospitality, accommodation and tourism. Workforce shortages have been longstanding and made even more acute since the pandemic.

The Albanese Labor Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit has delivered a number of initiatives designed to build a bigger, better trained and more productive workforce, boost real wages and living standards, and create more opportunities for more Australians.  

Today’s announcement is another example of what happens when industry, government, unions and stakeholders work together to address the challenges facing our nation.